Whether you're a rookie trying to get started with an SEO campaign, or a seasoned SEO veteran who doesn't actively go over the basics, we're all capable of making basic "rookie" mistakes from time to time. Admitting that is the first and most important step to preventing, catching, and correcting these problems.
For the most part, these mistakes aren't going to compromise the long-term health of your SEO campaign. One or two carry the risk of earning you a manual penalty, but the majority are minor constraints that build up over time and can stifle the growth of your campaign. Still, it's in your best interest to find and correct these mistakes as soon as possible, if for no other reason than they're easy to find and fix:
1. Relying entirely on others to do the work. I'm a proponent of outsourcing for SEO. It's almost impossible to do all the work alone, and generally, outside agencies are cheaper and have far more resources and valuable relationships than hiring a full-time employee yourself. However, if you let your SEO agency do all the work and call all the shots without getting yourself remotely involved in the process, you could be severely restricting your growth. Nobody knows your business, niche, competition, and audience like you do, so it's in your best interest to be available and keep an active role in your campaign and give meaningful direction to your campaign based on your knowledge of the industry.
2. Writing for search engines. It's helpful to know what things search engines look for in your content and site structure, such as the fact that it's important for your title to include keywords for which you want the page to rank, and that your phrasing gives contextual clues to the overall meaning and relevance of the content. However, writing purely for search engines is a bad idea. If you want it to attract links and shares, which are the heavy-hitting metrics that boost rankings of any particular piece of content, write for human readers with a focus on giving them value.
3. Writing as much content as possible. It's true that more content means more indexed pages and more potential links and shares, but don't let that fool you into thinking that more content is always better. Your goals should focus on quality, not quantity. Only if you're already publishing the best possible material you can should you start looking to expand your operation.
4. Failing to optimize when adding new pages. Most sites demand new pages be added on a regular basis. It might be the introduction of new products and services, or the simple expansion of on-site material you have to inform your users. Whatever the case, it's your responsibility to take action when adding those page. Write a good, unique title and description for it, ensure it's functioning properly, build internal links to it, and include it in your updated sitemap.
5. Failing to take action when removing old pages. Similarly, if you're getting rid of an old page, you'll have to take action as well. Update your sitemap to remove the old link from view, or set up a 301 redirect to guide users and search engine bots to a new relevant location.
6. Building any and all links you can. Like with content, it's easy to get lost in thinking that more is always better. Yes, more links pointing back to your domain is correlated with higher domain authority and rankings, but there are a number of other factors you'll have to consider, including the diversity and quality of your linking sources. Above all, your link building needs to appear natural, or it won't matter how many links you build.
7. Splitting time across every social media channel. There are a lot of social media platforms out there, and each one has a significant potential audience. However, this doesn't mean you should take up any and all social channels for your brand. Only some platforms will host an audience relevant for your brand, and only some will offer a positive ROI. Concentrate your efforts in order to provide a higher quality experience and more value for your heavy-hitters. Remember the Pareto principle: 80% of your success will come from 20% of your tactics.
8. Forgetting internal links. Search engines and users both like seeing your internal pages relevantly linked together. It lends a better understanding of the structure of your site, reduces the amount of clicks necessary to get to any point within your site, and shows that you care about the structure and relationship of your pages.
9. Neglecting user experience. SEO isn't just about publishing good content and building links to it. It's also important to ensure your users have a great experience when visiting your site. There are dozens of factors that could be qualified as "experience factors," including site speed, site security, mobile performance, and navigation--don't let these factors go unnoticed or unmodified.
10. Not measuring or analyzing your results. This is the worst mistake of them all. The only way to know whether you're building an effective SEO campaign, and the only way to learn and improve your strategic direction, is to measure and analyze your results. If you aren't taking snapshots throughout the process and interpreting your results for future applications, you're missing the whole point of the operation.
How many of these mistakes have you been making? Hopefully, in the coming weeks, the answer will become zero. Forget the advanced technical structures and the latest "tricks" to get more visibility--a good SEO campaign starts with a good foundation, and that means making sure all the basics of your campaign are in place and free of significant error. Keep tabs on your campaign's development, and always push forward on new ground, but don't forget or neglect these potential rookie mistakes.